November 28, 2022

How A Lava Lamp Killed A 24-Year-Old Man

Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, death resides in a myriad of unsuspecting places. No, there’s no reason to live in a constant state of fear, but it’s important to remember that accidents — regardless of how outlandish and bizarre they may be — can happen, and they can be tragically fatal. Triplem reports that in 2013, Joao Maria de Souza was fast asleep in his Brazilian home when his roof collapsed and a cow fell on top of him where he lay, killing him instantly. Sometime in the 1500s, a man whose beard was so long that it brushed the ground at his feet actually tripped over it while fleeing from a fire. Atlas Obscura reports Hans Steininger fell down a flight of stairs, broke his neck, and died. (For the morbidly curious, as of a 2018 report, the beard was on display in his hometown of Braunau am Inn, Austria.)

Some of these stories are so ridiculous and absurd, they almost sound like urban legends. Did you ever hear about the man who was killed by a lava lamp? NBC News reports that in 2004, 24-year-old Phillip Quinn died in his home after his lava lamp exploded. 

Phillip Quinn was killed by his lava lamp

Your head is probably buzzing with all the various hypothetical ways one can die via lava lamp. Nobody knows why Phillip Quinn, who was living alone in a trailer at the time, decided to place his lava lamp on a hot stove, but what we know for certain is that it was a fatally bad idea (via Seattle PI). Perhaps it was mere curiosity that prompted his actions, but regardless, Quinn’s unfortunate death stands as a cautionary tale to anyone who might want to perform the little experiment themselves. 

The nifty little devices are indeed satisfying to look at, but we now know that they should never be tampered with otherwise. According to NBC News, Quinn was alone one Sunday evening and, for one reason or another, heated his lamp on his stove and turned it on. It exploded violently and the debris shot throughout the room. Sadly, Quinn was directly in the line of fire.

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Glass entered his heart

Basically, lava lamps consist of a wad of wax in liquid. When a light bulb at the base heats the wax, blobs form and float up, then sink (per How Stuff Works). Repeat. “Why on earth he was heating a lava lamp on the stove, we don’t know,” Paul Petersen, a spokesman for the Kent, Washington Police, told the press after the fact (per NBC News). Perhaps Quinn was trying to speed up the heating-floating process.

Whatever the motivation, when Quinn’s lava lamp exploded, the shards of glass that spread in all directions reportedly entered his chest and cut directly into his heart. While the blow didn’t kill him on impact, there was virtually nothing that could have been done once the damage was inflicted (per NBC News). 

According to Seattle PI, Quinn’s girlfriend grew concerned after she hadn’t heard from him. She contacted his parents, who then drove to his residence to check in and discovered his lifeless body sprawled across his bed. Apparently, he stumbled into his bedroom after absorbing the flying pieces of glass and died shortly thereafter. Police arrived on the scene and ultimately ruled Quinn’s death a tragic accident.